By age 21, one in three girls in foster care will give birth. These alarming numbers are proof that targeted education is necessary to overcome the stigma and challenges relating to early and unplanned pregnancy prevention. In response, the Board of Supervisors passed a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to implement the “California’s Plan for the Prevention of Unintended Pregnancies for Youth and Non-Minor Dependents,” better known as “The Plan.”
“The harms experienced by both young parents and their children come at a great expense. Worse, however, are the human costs of a lost childhood and a displaced future due to circumstances that could have been prevented with proper medical care and sex education,” said Supervisor Solis. “Today, we’re asking the County to help us ensure these girls can become the best they can possibly be. With guidance, education, and support for them, I am confident we can achieve that.”
Supervisor Kuehl added, “To me this motion can be summed up in one word: Opportunity. It’s about making sure that girls in foster care have the necessary information to make informed decisions about actions that will ultimately affect their education, their employment, their aspirations and their readiness to start a family. We want them to know that the trajectory of their life could be dramatically altered by an unintended pregnancy.”
“The Plan,” derived from the California Department of Social Services, outlines the responsibilities of social workers and probation officers with respect to reproductive health care information for our youth in foster care. Supervisors have tasked the Department of Children and Family Services and Probation, in consultation with the Health Agency, to implement “The Plan’s” guidelines and develop a strategy to explore tools, public-private collaborations, and a communications plan in an effort to lower the rates of unplanned and early pregnancy amongst our foster care teens.
Teen childbearing cost the United States nearly $10.9 billion in 2008, with child welfare system expenses accounting for $2.8 billion of this amount. According to recent findings from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, several factors put youth in foster care at risk for early pregnancy including: a history of abuse and trauma, concerns about using birth control, lack of guidance, and a lack of reliable relationships with trusting adults.
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